9 Pacifier Alternatives For Toddlers

Are you thinking of getting rid of the pacifier, or do you want to avoid using one altogether?

When my wife was pregnant, we always said we wouldn’t use a pacifier with our daughter.

But 3 weeks after Mia was born, we were sat in the park, sleep deprived and exhausted….

Mia was screaming and crying, so we just popped a pacifier in her mouth.


Some peace and quiet at last!

Want to get rid of the dummy? Here are 9 pacifier alternatives for toddlers to help your child get rid of it once and for all.

We decided to get rid of the pacifier just after Mia turned 2 years old (just over a year ago)

I used the method of putting the pacifier in a little bag, and replacing it with a little teddy bear.

A little gift can work wonders…

And it seemed to do the trick for us.

Although it was easy during the day, we had a couple of difficult nights when she wanted her pacifier. But we stood firm, and everything worked out ok.

I know some people try the method of cutting bits of the pacifier piece by piece, or trying to put something which tastes unpleasant on the pacifier. However, I think it’s better to go cold turkey, and try to make the experience more positive, which is why I gave Mia a teddy bear as a replacement.

So if you’re thinking of getting rid of the pacifier for your toddler, here are 9 alternatives for you to try, which should help you particularly at night.

Soft Toy

Sleep associations are one of the main reasons babies and toddlers won’t sleep through the night. When they wake up, they need something to help them fall asleep again.

And the pacifier is definitely one of the main culprits in this situation…

One of my friends told me they tried putting about 10 pacifiers in the crib in the hope that their baby would find one if they woke up during the night! Not sure about this method as a long term solution..

So if you’re getting sleepless nights trying to find your toddler’s pacifier at 3am, you need a sleep association that they can control, and a soft toy is a great option.

Give it to your toddler during the bedtime routine at night time, and place it in the crib for naps as well. That way your child will form a relationship with it.

When they wake up at night, it’s a lot easier for them to find their soft toy than a tiny pacifier.

You could encourage this whole approach by going to a toy shop and letting your child pick a soft toy themselves.


Another alternative to the pacifier, which can really help at night, is the blanket.

It can serve as the same purpose as a soft toy as a sleep association which your toddler can control, and not need mum or dad to help them get back to sleep.

Let them pick a blanket in a children’s shop, maybe one with their favourite cartoon character or some other colourful images.

I always think of Linus in Charlie Brown with his blanket in one hand, and sucking his thumb in the other. However, I don’t think you’d want your toddler to be this dependent on it!

Night Light Projector

Purchasing one of these can be a great choice to help your toddler get back to sleep if they wake up during the night.

Around the age of 2-3 many toddlers become a scared of the dark, so if they are reliant on the pacifier as well, some soft light can really help soothe them back to sleep.

Sleeping Bag

If you’re not keen on trying a soft toy, blanket or night light (or if these options haven’t worked for you)…

… try a sleeping bag.

You can take the approach of, “this is for older children, not babies”.

Many children would love to try a sleeping bag, so trading the pacifier for one might do the trick.

White Noise

This never worked for us with Mia but it might for you.

Try playing some white noise, or some audio which replicates the sound of the womb. It can help soothe your toddler to sleep at night and reassure them if they wake during the night, so they can go back to sleep themselves.

Piece Of Your Clothing

A piece of your clothing can function like a soft toy or blanket to an unsettled toddler who needs their pacifier.

Wear something for a few hours, or put it near you when you sleep during the night.

After this, and for future nights, place it near your toddler when they’re sleeping.

The smell of mum can calm most anxious children!


Drinking some milk before bed, or even water, during the bedtime routine can help remove the need for a pacifier.

Keep the drink near your toddler’s bed so they can find it during the night if they wake up.

The main issues with this are if you are potty training, your toddler will have a full bladder and need to go to the toilet more often, or worse still, wet the bed!

Also, avoid drinking anything with sugar in i.e. juice and fizzy drinks, as they will rot your child’s teeth in no time at all. Even milk has some sugar, but not too much…


I’ve put this one last, because for me, I really don’t like seeing kids with thumbs in their mouths.

But it can help get rid of the pacifier…

There are 3 main issues with it though

  • It’s unhygienic, so your toddler can get ill by picking up more germs
  • It’s not good for the teeth
  • I hear it can be a real challenge to break this habit (even harder than the pacifier)

So use this at your discretion.

It might be short term gain, but long term pain!


Are any of these pacifier alternatives guaranteed to work?

Unfortunately not. You’ll just have to try the suggestions in this article one by one, and see how it goes.

I would recommend the cold turkey approach though and just get rid of the thing when the time comes, but that’s just me.

If that seems too harsh, at least get rid of it during the day first and then phase it out at night over the course of a few days.

Why should you get rid of the pacifier?

It’s just something you have to do eventually, and the longer you leave it, the harder it gets.

Also, there are some significant reasons why it’s best to ditch the pacifier earlier rather than later.

  • Some studies suggest prolonged use of pacifiers can hinder speech development
  • Your toddler can become dependent on the pacifier
  • It can lead to problems with your toddler’s teeth if you use one for too long.

Why do toddlers need a pacifier in the first place?

Many parents who are looking to get rid of the pacifier often think why they bothered with it in the first place.

But hindsight is a wonderful thing, and when you’re very tired, a pacifier can be a big help, especially for the first 18 months or so.

Here are some reasons why a pacifier can be useful for your child:

  • A pacifier can really help settle and calm a baby, in a variety of situations, from going to bed at night, or if they’re having a loud cry during the day!
  • It offers an alternative to the nipple. When a baby sucks on a mother’s breast for milk, it’s comforting, and a pacifier can replicate this sensation. However, on the other hand, it’s possible it can interfere with breastfeeding, so it might be best to not overuse it unless you’re using formula or starting solid foods. At least wait until breastfeeding is established before using one.
  • It can provide a temporary distraction. If you’re out in public and sense a tantrum about to start, a pacifier can sometimes avoid this unpleasant scene!

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Author: Graham Scott

Graham runs the place around here. He likes making a "little noise" about all things to do with tennis and parenting. Check out his about page to learn more.

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